miércoles, 8 de enero de 2014

Gómez Pereira, before Descartes

When René Descartes published his Discourse on the Method in 1637 there were many who questioned the originality of his arguments. The cause was the possible plagiarism to a Spanish philosopher known by scholars in the field in those years as Pierre Daniel Huet  Isaac Cardoso or Voltaire, among others. The publication in question was Gomez Pereira´s Antoniana Margarita, published in Spain in 1554, almost a century before.

Gómez Pereira

The similarities between the works of Descartes and Gómez Pereira are evident, both in defining the soul of beasts, its automatism, as in the method used. Descartes came to the deduction of Cogito ergo sum ​​(I think, therefore I am), while Gómez Pereira used the expression : quidquid noscit, est, ergo sum ​​(everyone who knows exists, therefore I am). In the words of Menendez Pelayo, Descartes used the same words and the same examples as Gómez Pereira:

"If the first lines Descartes gloss on G. Pereira, copying his exact words and examples: quare cum illorum peritiam non agnoscamus, superest ut ad peritiam authoris referatur velut quod horologium, motu gnomonis et pulsatione cymbali, metiatur et distinguat nostra tempora, refertur ad peritiam artificis..."

The Bishop of Avranches Pierre Daniel Huet (1630-1721) said: Nobody defended with more passion, and teach more openly this doctrine (automatism) that Gómez Pereira in his Antoniana Margarita, which breaking the chains of Lyceo that had been raised, and carried away the freedom of his genius, disseminated in Spain this and many other paradoxes.

Pierre Daniel Huet

For other medic of the Cophenague University, Olaus Boorrichius Descartes had taken these ideas on the cogito and animal automatism without mentioning Gómez Pereira supposed discredit, as he wrote in one of his letters in 1667.

There was no lack support for Descartes and scholars that denigrated the work of the spanish, as Pierre Bayle (1647-1706), Diderot (1713-1784) and d'Alembert (1717-1783), in his words:"Descartes was the first philosopher who dared to treat animals as mere machines: Gómez Pereira, who said it a while before that, hardly deserves to be talked here of him, fell into this hypothesis by chance."

Jean Le Rond d'Alembert 

The influence of the father Encyclopaedists was very high, even Feijoo repeated the same that Gómez Pereira had come to that reasoning by chance. Leibniz said in his correspondence that the thesis of Descartes was similar to Gómez Pereira´s but he could not believe Descartes read it. Other criticisms made ​​in Spain was published in the same Medina Book Endecálogo against Antoniana Margarita (1556) by Francisco Sosa, which mocks satirizing animal work of the philosopher to finally ruling that the book "is buried in hell".
Pereira´s work has only been translated from Latin into Spanish in 2000, which gives an idea of ​​the importance that has been given in their own country. Essayist Menendez Pelayo said: "In experimental psychology, Gómez Pereira is, withuout any doubt, more advanced than the philosophy of his time, rather than the seventeenth century, as Bacon and Descartes. None as he observes the phenomena of intelligence."
Menéndez Pelayo

Gómez Pereira was born in Medina del Campo in 1550, mainly devoted to medicine, engineering and philosophy although nothing is known about his life except for a few documents as litigations with other people.

In his second work Novae veraeque Medicinae focuses on the study of fevers and diseases such as smallpox or leprosy. He faces the ideas of Galen and medieval using an empirical and rational method. Thus, concluded that the fever generated by the body as a system to expel the disease by restoring the natural balance of the body.

In addition to his medical profession,  which led to even treat the heir of Philip II of an accident, carried out the construction of hydraulic devices.

In the following link from Ignacio Laramendi foundation you can find the work of Gómez Pereira:


Menéndez Pelayo, Marcelino (1887) La ciencia española: polémicas, indicaciones y proyectos, tomo 2. Imprenta Central a Cargo de Victor Saiz, Madrid. p 237.

Some links related to the celebration of the 5th century of the phylosopher

References and studies about Gómez Pereira

2 comentarios:

  1. You can have a look to:

  2. Sí, parece ser que Descartes también se apoyó en Francisco Sánchez en lo que concierne a la "duda metódica". Incluso el mismo Pierre Daniel Huet afirmó que Descartes plagió a Sánchez. Sin quitarle mérito a Descartes en otros temas, parece obvio que esto fue así. Los argumentos de Huet pueden consultarse en su obra Censura filosófica cartesiana (en latín):

    Gracias por el comentario y el enlace.